Hyperscale Computing: The Next Big Thing?

Living in an ever-evolving digital era, where data traffic continues to grow by leaps and bounds, organizations across the globe are currently challenged to store, manage and retrieve this massively growing amount of data. To seamlessly respond and cater to this escalating business need, companies are increasingly turning to hyperscale computing. As data center operators transform their architectures to leverage the core of hyperscale computing, I’d like to shed some light on how to be nimble and stay competitive as you scale your infrastructure.

What is hyperscale computing?

Hyperscale computing architectures expand and contract based on the needs of an organization and involve hundreds of thousands of individual servers that work together via a high-speed network. The largest cloud providers, such as AWS and Microsoft Azure, are key enablers of hyperscale computing and their continued growth is fueling the expansion of hyperscale data centers.

Cisco estimates that by 2021, traffic within hyperscale data centers will quadruple, and hyperscale data centers will account for 55% of all data center traffic by 2021.  This growth will only continue as the hyperscale data center market is expected to reach $80.65 billion by 2022, according to MarketsandMarkets.

Hyperscale Data Center Projections

A hyperscale computing data center can scale its architecture to appropriately provision an increased demand from various servers and virtual machines. Hyperscaled data center operators have better resources and bandwidth to support the growing demand for storing high-volume data.

Unlike a traditional data center architecture, hyperscale data centers are built on three important concepts:

  • A highly responsive and cost-effective IT infrastructure, along with distributed systems to reduce complexities and improve business operations
  • Scalability to keep pace with changing demand for computing tasks
  • Agility, security and lower hardware/software costs to ensure appropriate revenue

To summarize, a hyperscale architecture supports the optimum level of throughput performance and incremental redundancy to provide fault tolerance and continuous availability. It is better equipped to reconfigure hardware/software as needed, while upgrading components in an organized way, and provide IT managers with an economical approach to scale resources on-demand.

Hyperscaling in a cloud architecture

Cloud computing continues to dominate the technology space. This remarkable growth is predominately attributed to factors like the evolution of Internet of Things (IoT) and the progression of artificial intelligence (AI). With this, businesses are under continuous pressure to distribute content and information without any visible disruption in their services. As a result, data center facilities are designed to maximize their capacity to take care of digital businesses’ increasing appetite for data traffic, while maintaining sufficient adaptability to enlarge as data in the cloud grows. This, in turn, has led to the rising trend of hyperscaling in the cloud as a service.

How a hyperscaler infrastructure is different from a traditional data center model

One of the key factors that sets a hyperscale facility apart from a traditional data center is the “composability.” This is when a hyperscaler infrastructure can exactly match the appropriate hardware with the required workload, which can be further broken down into exact hardware components (CPUs, network connectivity, memory storage, etc.). Beyond its size, a hyperscale facility has a distinct design and openness to select/integrate components that are best suited for the workload and the scalability to support spikes in demand and new workload complexities.

The following are the key components of hyperscale data centers and the advantages they offer over traditional models:

High-Density Servers: Hyperscale data centers have a range of computing applications to support high volumes of data, together with high-density server configurations. Such facilities have a robust architecture, which knits together thousands of singular servers or nodes (also known as “vanity-free servers”), offering storage and computing resources. These nodes are further connected by resilient and high-speed networks. The intent is to design a powerful infrastructure capable of optimizing performance, while cutting down on software and other operating costs.

Portable Applications: Running cluster-aware applications that can easily distribute workloads across a grid of cluster nodes is essential for hyperscale environments. For this reason, modern data centers deploy highly portable cloud applications, so that if one server fails, parallel nodes can easily share the workload. In contrast, in a traditional data center, the server supporting a critical application needs to be fixed to effectively run the application again.

High-Density Cooling: Compared to traditional models, hyperscale data centers are located in colder zones to save on cooling costs. The facilities are constantly handling increasing data traffic, which expands IP connections and increases demand for storage needs, so it is imperative for them to deploy high-density cooling elements. These include customized air handlers, liquid cooling and water-chilled large metal boxes equipped with blowers to enable servers to run at ambient temperatures.

Renewable Power: In a hyperscale design, lithium ion-based batteries are used to power cabinets that pack a considerable amount of energy in a smaller footprint to avoid any disruptions. This provides a secure and stable power supply that is easy to implement with high-energy production. Moreover, it is believed that the future hyperscale data center will fuel their infrastructure facilities with renewable sources of energy. With this strategy, we are reducing operational expenses while at the same time, minimizing the impact to the environment by reducing carbon emissions. Traditional facilities power their infrastructure from UPS or valve-regulated lead-acid batteries.

24×7 Support: Since hyperscalers deploy vanity-free servers, their manpower ratios can vary drastically, compared to an average data center facility. To help businesses stay up and working, hyperscale operators have a team of dedicated employees working round-the-clock to maintain servers and provide support at granular levels.

Looking through the lens: Equinix and hyperscaling

Cisco’s Global Cloud Index report projects North America as the top hub for hyperscale computing in the coming years, followed by APAC and Europe.

Equinix is well-equipped to pursue greater hyperscale deals in all these regions, given its extensive global presence. With more than 200 International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers across five continents and 99.9999% global uptime, Platform Equinix® provides unparalleled access to business ecosystem partners and potential enterprise customers in 52+ major markets, enabling businesses to reach every destination on demand.

Equinix stands as a global leader in the interconnection and colocation market and is strategically placed to engage in hyperscale initiatives. We have a dedicated Hyperscale Infrastructure Team (HIT) to focus on hyperscale customers, and it is shown in the diagram below as one of our core colocation services.

We are currently designing our PA8 data center in Paris to specialize in hyperscale deployments. In addition, our LD9 and LD10 facilities in London have a mix of cabinet and hyperscale deployments that are also suited to contribute to the HIT.

In a nutshell, with reduced costs and improved throughput, hyperscale data centers can increase revenues and act as a pivotal solution for managing increasing demands from existing clients and new businesses.

For more information read the Platform Equinix Vision paper.

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